Following American Pro Tennis

Following American Pro Tennis

Friday, December 13, 2013

Why Does American Men's Tennis Suck Now?

I admit, the subject line is harsh. And as much as I follow tennis and have my fingers on the pulse of the grass roots youth movement, I know there is hope for the future. So it's not all glass half empty. Still, there is no denying American tennis is at its worst, ever, in 2013. John Isner is the highest ranked American at 14, Sam Querrey is barely in the top 50, and then you've got a handful of other guys between 89 and 110. That's the current state of American men's singles tennis. Sure, it was probably never going to be as good as the Agassi/Sampras/Chang/Courier era, but none of us ever saw it getting THIS bad.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

American Tennis 2014 Preview

2013 was a year we just assume forget in a lot of ways for American tennis. There is no question the state of our country's game is in a state of crisis and transition. As always there's two ways to look at it: glass half full or glass half empty. Either way, it's undeniable that while you make the convenient narrative statement that "tennis is just a worldwide sport these days" or that "the world has caught up"; we as American tennis players on the ATP tour can get a lot better. For starters, the fact that our #2 ranked player is 46 and our #3 ranked player is 89 are a problem. Currently there are 7 American players in the top 100, but 5 of them are between 89 and 100. The good news is there are some young guys knocking on the door.

We might be a year or two away from having 4-5 guys in the top 50 again, but while we may never regain the golden age of Sampras-Agassi-Courier-Chang dominance I got to enjoy as a kid, things will be a lot better in the future than they are now. I'm convinced of it. The problem with American tennis is we are taught to hit big serves and forehands, and come in. That has always been the blueprint to success. As strings got better, balls heavier, courts slower... it's all benefited legs and consistency over shotmaking. Not only is it harder to hit through the court, underdeveloped weaknesses are easier to expose. So all those youngsters that spent all their formative years not worrying about a backhand because they were running around it and bombing every shot? They are paying for that now. And it's much easier to pass them when they are at the net. The classic clay courter game is now the universal game, and that's what having success. Guys like Raonic, Tsonga, Isner and Berdych are the exception because they are freaks of nature. But unless you are a freak of nature, you better be able to run, defend, keep the ball in the court and have endurance. That's how you survive in the modern game. It's why a guy like Smyczek is ranked so much higher than Steve Johnson, say, despite having much less "game". We're getting there but years of one dimensional teaching has to be undone. Anyway, this could take up an entire blog post so I'll leave it at that for now.

The players: